Carolina Style BBQ Shredded Chicken Sandwiches

Topped with crunchy coleslaw, these Carolina Style BBQ Shredded Chicken Sandwiches make for a tasty meal!

Topped with crunchy coleslaw, these Carolina Style BBQ Shredded Chicken Sandwiches make for a tasty meal!I was born in Texas, however we moved to Charleston, SC when I was almost 6 years old.  My father was into sailing, and Charleston provided a great opportunity to get the sailboat out on the weekends.  Hurricane Hugo came along 3 years later, and it had other plans for the sailboat.  We found the boat – without a mast – on its side in the marsh about a mile away.  However, I digress.  This post is about barbecue – particularly Carolina-style barbecue.

Topped with crunchy coleslaw, these Carolina Style BBQ Shredded Chicken Sandwiches make for a tasty meal!In Texas, barbecue means one thing.  Beef.  Smoked beef.  Actual barbecue sauce is optional.  My father has always loved a good barbecue sandwich, and to this day I can still remember the time he went to get barbecue sandwiches in Charleston.  I believe the exact reaction was something along the lines of, “They served me some sort of anemic sour white stuff that tasted godawful.”  And that was how my father learned that Carolina style barbecue is very different than Texas style barbecue.

Topped with crunchy coleslaw, these Carolina Style BBQ Shredded Chicken Sandwiches make for a tasty meal!Carolina Style BBQ Shredded Chicken Sandwiches

As I noted in this previous post about Alabama White BBQ Chicken, barbecue styles vary greatly as you move around the United States.  Not only does the style change, but the type of meat changes, too.  In Texas, barbecue means beef.  A good smoked brisket sandwich still ranks up there pretty high on my list!  However, as you head into the Carolinas, the ketchup-based barbecue sauces in Texas are traded in for vinegar sauces.  Oh, and the meat changes to chicken or pork.  Enter these Carolina Style BBQ Shredded Chicken Sandwiches.

Vinegar.  A little bit of sugar.  A sprinkling of a few other seasonings.  That’s all it takes to make these sandwiches.  (In some parts of South Carolina, mustard enters the equation, too.  I didn’t use any mustard for these sandwiches.)

Topped with crunchy coleslaw, these Carolina Style BBQ Shredded Chicken Sandwiches make for a tasty meal!If you like vinegar (ahem, my wife), then you’ll love these Carolina Style BBQ Shredded Chicken Sandwiches!  The beauty of these sandwiches is that they are a cinch to make.  The chicken goes into the slow cooker for several hours, and then it shreds apart easily with 2 forks.

I like to serve these sandwiches with a pile of homemade coleslaw on top to bring a little crunch.  Laura also pointed out that these sandwiches would be good with a bit of hot sauce and blue cheese dressing.  (Leave it to Laura to figure out how to turn everything into buffalo chicken!)

Topped with crunchy coleslaw, these Carolina Style BBQ Shredded Chicken Sandwiches make for a tasty meal!When I hear BBQ, I still think smoked brisket or perhaps grilled chicken brushed with BBQ sauce.  I don’t think Carolina-style shredded chicken.  Nevertheless, these sandwiches are quite tasty, and they’re a great way to feed a crowd.  I hope you enjoy these sandwiches as much as we did!

Did you make these Carolina Style BBQ Shredded Chicken Sandwiches at home?  Leave a comment, or snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@Spicedblog).  I’d love to see your version!

Topped with crunchy coleslaw, these Carolina Style BBQ Shredded Chicken Sandwiches make for a tasty meal!

Carolina Style BBQ Shredded Chicken Sandwiches

Topped with crunchy coleslaw, these Carolina Style BBQ Shredded Chicken Sandwiches make for a tasty meal!
5 from 1 vote
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 hours
Total Time: 5 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 190kcal

Ingredients

For the Cole Slaw

  • 1 medium cabbage shredded (see note)
  • 2 medium carrots shredded
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup milk
  • Tbsp lemon juice
  • Tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

For the Carolina Style Shredded Chicken

  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2½-3 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • hamburger buns for serving

Instructions

For the Coleslaw

  • Using a large bowl, add all coleslaw ingredients; toss until well combined.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (Tip: Refrigerating overnight will allow flavors to meld better.)

For the Carolina Style Shredded Chicken

  • Using a medium bowl, add water, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper; stir until well combined.
  • Place chicken in a standard size slow cooker. Pour vinegar mixture on top. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours, or until chicken can be easily shredded with 2 forks.
  • Remove chicken and place on a large plate or cutting board; shred using 2 forks.
  • Discard all but ½ cup of cooking liquid from slow cooker. Return shredded chicken to slow cooker and stir in reserved cooking liquid.
  • To serve, place shredded chicken on buns and top with prepared coleslaw.

Notes

I often use ½ head of green cabbage and ½ head of red cabbage when making this coleslaw. However, you can use just green cabbage if desired, or you can also purchase a bag of shredded cabbage.

Topped with crunchy coleslaw, these Carolina Style BBQ Shredded Chicken Sandwiches make for a tasty meal!

Looking for more tasty BBQ recipes?  Check out these other ideas, too:

These Slow Cooker BBQ Meatball Subs are an easy and delicious comfort dinner.  Perfect for cold winter days!Slow Cooker BBQ Meatball Subs

These New Orleans-style BBQ Shrimp and Grits don't involve barbecue sauce...but this recipe is a New Orleans classic for a reason!  Talk about delicious comfort food!New Orleans Style BBQ Shrimp and Grits

Mix up pizza night with a batch of Alabama White BBQ Sauce!  This Alabama Style BBQ Chicken Pizza is a delicious combination of flavors!Alabama Style BBQ Chicken Pizza

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12 Comments

  1. Will be making this soon can i use vegan mayo / buttermilk / almond milk and mushrooms as am a vegan perfect for my after office meals will dm you if i make this and let you know how it goes Thanks Ramya

    1. Hey Ramya! I’m not sure about using mushrooms here as I’ve never done it…but I think it would be an interesting recipe. I could see this concept working with mushrooms as the base! If you try it out, let me know…I’m curious!

  2. David, is that an updated logo I spotted on your header? Nice.
    Well, when it comes to bbq I’m still a Texan at heart. I could never really get into the Carolina bbq sauce, but you’ve inspired me to give it another try.

    1. Hey Ron! That is indeed an updated logo – take a look at the Spicedblog homepage. 🙂 I figured it’s time to give the site a facelift!

      And I’m with you, my friend. BBQ always has been and always will be shredded beef. The Carolina stuff is tasty, but I just can’t call it BBQ. You have to think about it as an entirely different meal…different meat, different sauce, different everything. Haha!

    1. Hey Sherry! This shredded chicken + coleslaw sandwich is quite tasty. It’s interesting how the definition of BBQ changes as you move around the US. I’m sure Australia has some regional foods like that, too. Either way, my Dad never got another sailboat after Hurricane Hugo. That was kind of the end of an era there.

  3. I didn’t know about Carolina-style BBQ. I actually like it! But I wouldn’t hate some caramelization on the chicken (But that won’t be Carolina-style BBQ haha) Anyway this sandwich looks and sounds delicious. I also like that you used purple cabbage for the coleslaw – beautiful popping colours!)

    1. Well, you could perhaps get some caramelization on the chicken by crisping it up in a dry frying pan after it’s cooked. I actually kinda like that idea, Ben! And the flavors would still be there, so it would totally count as Carolina-style BBQ still.

      And, yes, I always like to use half-green and half-purple when I make coleslaw. It looks fun, and I think it tastes better, too!

    1. To be fair, Texas style BBQ is far and away my favorite style. However, this shredded chicken BBQ is pretty darned tasty. Thanks, Kathy…hope you had a great weekend!

  4. It was interesting reading about different barbecue styles that are enjoyed across America. Pardon me for my lack of knowledge but I am really intrigued by the addition milk to the coleslaw. Did you use it for flavour or for thinning down the dressing?

    1. That’s a good question about the milk in the coleslaw, Taruna. It thins out the dressing a bit – that way it doesn’t end up thick and ‘goopy’ with too much mayo. I like to use half-buttermilk just for an added bit of flavor. Either way, coleslaw is a requirement for me when talking about BBQ – no matter what style!

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